top of page
  • Writer's pictureBedford Driver

Turns | Steering | Intersections | Signs

Updated: 6 days ago


There’s a lot going on when you’re first learning to drive especially when it comes to making turns. Your right foot is working the pedals, both hands are steering, and your eyes are constantly scanning the driving environment. It takes the same level of coordination as a drummer in a band.

A drummer uses their left hand to play the snare drum, right hand and left foot for the high hat, and their right foot for the base drum. Add in a band, and now you must not only maintain rhythm and coordination but they must also maintain sync and flow with the rest of the band. Similarly in traffic a driver must learn how to control the vehicle while turning.

Lars Ulrich Drum Solo

A rolling turn is one of the more difficult maneuvers to perfect with good flow. First you approach the turn at a safe speed for how sharp it is while maintaining a steady pressure on the brake or gas pedal depending on whether it’s an uphill or downhill turn. Your signal light must be activated before you apply the brakes, then the steering wheel must be turned smoothly while maintaining seamless flow and control. All of these steps are performed together so it can be a lot all at once.

Like everything in driving, the trick is to slow your turns down and perfect them with good flow. Remember that for rolling turns you have to shoulder check 200 - 300 feet out from the turn. This ensures that if there is a cyclist riding beside you in your blind spot you'll see them before beginning your turn and avoid hitting them. Shoulder checking well before your rolling turn also makes it much easier to focus on the intersection as you approach.

How To Properly Use Your Turn Signals: How Far Ahead Should You Signal, When To Use Them, And Why

Turn signals are one of the only ways that drivers have to communicate with each other while in traffic. When other drivers around you know what you're doing that makes you and them safer.


For the best steering control you should hold the wheel from the outside with your thumbs resting on the outside of the wheel. This is how you have to hold the steering wheel on your road test.

Tesla Steering Wheel
Thumbs on outside of the steering wheel

How To Hold The Steering Wheel

Once you have your fulls you can put your thumbs on the inside of the steering wheel as most wheels will have slots on the sides to give you better grip. They're located at the 9-3 position and every professional race car driver holds their steering wheel like this.

Hand Over Hand Steering

Use the drain covers in the centre of an intersection to mark the point at which you start to steering for your turn. This ensures that you'll be perfectly lined up with your new lane as you exit the turn.

Counter Steering

This video is more specific to race track driving but the concepts of how to control a vehicle and steer in a slide are the same.

The Difference Between Oversteer and Understeer


Intersections are places where a number of road users cross paths. There is often a lot of activity at intersections, so it’s important to communicate with other motorists by signaling your intentions.

Intersections can be controlled or uncontrolled. Controlled intersections use traffic lights, yield signs or stop signs to control traffic. Uncontrolled intersections have no signs or traffic lights and are usually found in less busy areas.

  • Roundabouts - At a roundabout, you must yield the right-of-way to vehicles already in the circle.

  • Yield signs - When crossing an intersection with a yield sign, you should slow down or stop if necessary and wait until the way is clear before proceeding. You should yield to pedestrians, cyclists, or other vehicles that have the right-of-way.

Controlled Intersections

A controlled intersection has traffic signs or traffic lights to tell road users what to do when they arrive at the intersection. At a controlled intersection with traffic lights, you must follow the signals and signs. At a controlled intersection with stop signs or yield signs, you must follow the signs and yield to other vehicles or pedestrians.


Never change lanes at an intersection. A crosswalk is also considered an intersection. Do not pass a vehicle that is stopped at a crosswalk.

Stay in your lane while turning through an intersection

Stops Signs

Stop before the line. If there is no line then stop before the sign.

Right of way

Having the right of way means you are allowed to proceed before other drivers at the intersection. If you do not have the right of way, you must allow others to go first. You yield the right of way.

At an intersection with stop signs at all corners, you must yield the right-of-way to the first vehicle to come to a complete stop. If two vehicles stop at the same time, the vehicle on the right has the right-of-way.

There are also rules about where you position your vehicle when you have to stop at an intersection. If there is a stop line, stop just before the line. If there is a crosswalk, stop just before the crosswalk.

Stop sign.
Stop sign.

Many of the stop signs in Halifax are blocked by trees, bushes, and other traffic signs.

Never Speed Up At An Intersection

In the video below the motorcycle rider is approaching an intersection at too fast of a speed. Motorcycles are a lot smaller than cars which makes it much harder to judge their speed. Always drive at a consistent speed when driving through an intersection.

Green Lights

Left turns on solid green lights

Solid green light
Solid green light

You have to yield to the vehicles driving straight through the intersection when waiting to turn left on a solid green light. Left turns on solid green lights can be dangerous so take your time.

When making a left turn, do not turn your wheels to the left until you are sure you can complete the turn. A collision from behind could push your vehicle into oncoming traffic. Keep your wheels straight.


  • SOLID GREEN - You can turn left on a solid green light but yield the right-of-way to oncoming traffic driving straight through the intersection.

  • FLASHING GREEN - You have the right-of-way to turn left right or continue straight.

  • GREEN ARROW - You have the right of way in the direction of the arrow. Vehicles going straight in the opposite direction and pedestrians must yield the right of way.

Intersection tips

  • Never trust anyone’s signal light. Wait until the vehicle actually slows down before entering the road.

  • Always scan an intersection from left to right as you approach to ensure that no one is running a red light. This is extremely important.

  • The first vehicle in line waiting to turn left on a solid green light should be in the intersection.

  • Hold the steering wheel straight so that if you get rear ended you won't be pushed into oncoming traffic.

  • Stay in the lane you chose before the intersection because it's illegal and super dangerous to change lanes at or near an intersection.

Red Lights

Red light
Red light

  • FLASHING RED - A flashing red light should be treated like a stop sign.

  • STEADY RED - Unless a sign states otherwise, drivers can turn right after stopping, but they must yield the right of way to any vehicles and pedestrians who are facing the green light.

Watch Out For Red Light Runners

Some motorists run red lights because they don't care to stop, but most tend to confuse the set of traffic lights further ahead of them with the ones directly in front of them. Always make sure that you are looking at the traffic lights for the intersection you're entering into. This is very common in Upper Tantallon because there are multiple sets of traffic lights all in a row so it's easy to confuse them. It's so common that the Nova Scotia Government had to install traffic cameras.

Cameras on, but nobody watching; newly installed cameras used for traffic sensors

Yellow Lights

Yellow light
Yellow light

A yellow light is a warning that the light will be changing to red. Drivers must not enter the intersection when the light is yellow, but if it's not safe to stop they should continue through the intersection. If a driver is already in the intersection, they must clear the intersection when the light turns red and all other traffic has stopped.

There are a number of ways that a driver can read traffic lights as they approach an intersection which can help with figuring out if the light will turn yellow or not. One way to do this is to watch the pedestrian light because most times it will begin to countdown on it. Most times when the countdown finishes, the lights will turn yellow but not in all cases.

  • STEADY YELLOW - Be prepared to stop. A steady yellow light means the traffic signal is about to turn red.

  • FLASHING YELLOW - Drive with caution and only stop if you have to.

Stop for a yellow light unless you're too close to the intersection to stop safely. Never speed up for a yellow light.

Yellow lights and committing

Yellow lights are hard to judge at first but a good practice is to imagine any solid green light that you're approaching is going to turn yellow. Anticipate the change and ask yourself where you think the point of no return or commitment point is. You can also use the solid white line which is painted between the lanes at the intersection to judge where your commitment point is. This line indicates that drivers shouldn't change lanes at an intersection and it's a perfect tool to use in order to figure out when to commit. If you are at or close to the speed limit then when you reach the start of this line you will most times be able to proceed through the light. Don't just make it a policy to stop every time. One of my students was practicing and stopped for a yellow light that she shouldn't have stopped for. Then she got stuck in the intersection after the light went red and a road rage incident took place. Be confident.

Exiting driveways, and parking lots

When you are entering a street from a driveway, or parking lot or service road, you must stop as if there is an invisible stop sign there. Just like at a stop sign, you must yield the right of way and not proceed until it is safe.

A sidewalk also acts like a stop sign. When you are emerging from an alley or driveway, you must stop and yield the right of way before driving across the sidewalk.

Tips From The Nova Scotia Driver's Handbook

Intersection Right of Way

  • When two facing vehicles approach an intersection at the same time, both drivers can move straight ahead or turn right. If one driver is going straight while the other wants to turn left, the driver who wants to turn left must yield the right of way and wait until the turn can be made safely.

  • Regardless of the "right of way" you feel you have, always be 100 per cent ready to yield to any oncoming vehicles when approaching an intersection if it will avoid a collision.

  • At intersections without traffic signals, pedestrians have the right of way.

  • At intersections controlled by traffic signals, pedestrians must obey the same signals as drivers traveling in the same direction. Pedestrians should not start to cross during a red or yellow signal.

  • When crossing with a green signal, pedestrians have the right of way over all vehicles, including those turning across the paths of the pedestrians.

  • If you are moving through an intersection with a green signal, make sure you look in all directions to make sure all pedestrians have finished crossing.

  • If a traffic signal changes to yellow or red while a pedestrian remains in the street, you must allow the pedestrian to complete the crossing safely.

  • At some intersections, special signals instruct pedestrians either to "Walk" or "Don't Walk." When these signals are operating, pedestrians must obey them rather than regular traffic signals. Pedestrians crossing with the "Walk" signal have the right of way just as they do while crossing with a green light.

Traffic Signal Lights

  • Traffic signal lights control vehicle and pedestrian traffic at some intersections. You must yield the right of way to pedestrians in the crosswalk. You must also yield to other vehicles in the intersection or those approaching so closely as to be an immediate hazard.

  • For vehicles turning left at a solid green signal light, you must yield the right of way to oncoming vehicles and any pedestrians that may be in your path.

  • A yellow or amber signal light means that you must stop before entering the intersection, if you can stop safely.

  • A red signal light means that all traffic facing this signal must stop at the place marked or at the nearest side of the crosswalk.

  • If the traffic signal lights are not working, treat the intersection as a multi-stop. Come to a full stop, then proceed when you have the right of way and it is safe to do so.

  • Stop for a yellow signal unless you are too close to the intersection to stop safely. In that case, drive cautiously through the intersection. Never speed up for a yellow signal to "beat" the red signal.

  • Unless there is a sign showing "no turn on red," you may turn right on red after stopping and making sure that you can turn safely.

  • It is illegal to make a left turn on a red light, except for left turns at a red light from a one-way street to another one-way street.

Arrow Signals

  • Arrow signal lights control turning at some intersections. When facing a green signal light and a green arrow, turning traffic is controlled by the arrow signals and through traffic is controlled by the green signal lights.

  • A green arrow means that you can turn in the direction of the arrow and proceed through the intersection.

  • A yellow arrow means that you should stop, unless you are too close to the intersection to stop safely. In that case, drive cautiously through the intersection.

Flashing Signal Lights

  • A flashing red signal has the same meaning as the stop sign: Stop and do not go until you can enter the intersection without interfering with approaching traffic.

  • The flashing yellow or amber signal has the same meaning as a warning sign: Slow down and proceed with caution.

Vehicle Signals

Using your signal lights and horn

  • Your vehicle must be equipped with signal lights that are working properly and a horn that is in good working order. Before starting, stopping, or turning, check to see that you can do so safely. Use your signal lights to show your driving intentions to other vehicles. Signalling does not give you the right of way. You must make sure the way is clear and safe.


bottom of page